IT HAS gone down in history as one of the most spine-chilling moments in Glasgow’s ghoulish past.

Did you see the Gorbals Vampire?

It was a still and spooky night, 66 years ago, when a strange figure was spotted flitting through the gravestones of the Southern Necropolis.

Was it a ghost, or a trick of the light, conjured up by the red glow and smoke from the steelworks nearby?

It certainly spooked a community, who believed it to be the Gorbals Vampire, a seven-foot tall monster with iron teeth.

Glasgow Times:

Rumours that it had killed and eaten two young boys swept through the neighbourhood like wildfire.

Gangs of hysterical youngsters, armed with stakes and knives and accompanied by angry dogs, pitched up at the south side cemetery in the hope of catching the strange creature.

Very quickly, the press got wind of this horror tale and soon, newspapers from all over the country were on the case.

In the Evening News, one of three evening newspapers which covered Glasgow back then, a writer exclaimed: “Oh! That mythical monster in Hutchesontown!

“Here’s one way to clear Glasgow’s children’s heads of the “hooey” created by those American-style horror comics. KEEP THE CHILDREN INDOORS AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE FOR A FEW DAYS.”

Glasgow Times:

In a world before social media, the mass hysteria generated by this rumour – no-one really knows where or why it started – was remarkable.

Protesters did claim, as the newspaper article referenced above makes clear, that American horror comics were to blame for influencing young minds - there was indeed one at the time with the title, “The Vampire with the Iron Teeth”.

There was also a Glasgow ghost story about a woman called ‘Jenny wi’ the iron teeth’, who reportedly haunted Glasgow Green in the 19th century.

Politicians reacted by introducing a new act, spearheaded by then Gorbals MP Alice Cullen, to protect children from harmful publications.

(That piece of legislation, The Children and Young Persons (Harmful Publications) Act, became law in 1955 is still in existence today.)

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She advocated getting rid of the comics, adding: “I think there’s one way of dealing with it – and that’s for parents to stop these comics coming into the hands of their children. I’d keep the children at home for a couple of nights and tell them: ‘It’s a lot of hooey.’”

Fellow MP John Rankin, of Tradeston, agreed that something must be done about the ‘monster scare’.

He said: “Every type of depravity is created in these American comics – kicking an individual in the stomach, kicking him in the face, gouging out his eyes. That sort of thing is bound to create a fear complex in children which in my opinion, sends their minds galloping into all sorts of strange fields.”

What is even more remarkable about this story, of course, is that children believing there was a giant boy-eating vampire on the loose in their community chose not to cower under the bedclothes but instead, to go out to find it.

Eventually, the police were called but their attempts to move the children on failed and the group hunted for the mysterious creature for hours.

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The crowd only went home when it started to rain. but still the children refused to give up, turning up over the next few nights until parents and teachers finally put a stop to it.

Glasgow’s Mitchell Library has some of the newspaper articles which covered the story at the time, and images of the Gorbals Vampire, in its occult collection.

What do you remember of this spooky story?

Share your photos and memories by emailing or write to Ann Fotheringham, Glasgow Times, 200 Renfield Street, G2 3QB.